23 April 2007
A blazing performance by Luke Munro saw the Australian take the inaugural Quiksilver Pro Africa from on-form local hero Jordy Smith at Durban’s New Pier on Sunday.
In perfect three to four-foot performance waves that allowed the surfers to cut loose and go for broke, the two surfers went head-to-head, performing an array of radical moves. They included some of the high-risk aerial manoeuvres from Smith that has become his trademark, and some massive carving turns that saw Munro take the title.
The last three heats of the round of 16 commenced in perfect offshore three to four-foot waves.
No waves and no tactics
In the first heat to hit the water, South African Davey Weare came up against American Dane Reynolds. In what appeared to be a curious mix of no waves and no tactics, only one wave was ridden by each surfer up until the last minute. As the countdown hit, Weare caught a small wave for a small score and, in the dying seconds, Reynolds picked up a left and fell off. The exchange saw Reynolds through with a winning margin of 0.1.
“I really thought I had blown it. Seems like I punched my board for nothing,” said a slightly flustered Reynolds on the beach afterwards. “I can’t believe I won that. I feel kind of bad for Davey, but I’m stoked to get through. No waves came through in our heat and we were just waiting all heat.”
The second heat of the day saw Frenchman Mikael Picon defeat Rodrigo Dornelles in a fairly close heat, and the final round of 16 heat saw the final South African Greg Emslie lose to the Hawaiian surfer Roy Powers.
‘An honour to defeat a surfer like Greg’
“It’s an honour to defeat a surfer like Greg,” said Powers, full of praise for his opponent. “He’s already a legend in his country and in the world of surfing and I’m stoked to beat him. My program for the year is looking good to re-qualify (for the World Championship Tour), but I’m not going to get big-headed about it, there’s still lots of work to be done.”
As the quarters hit the water the tide drained and the waves improved for some classic encounters. First up was the Aussie pair of Kieren Perrow and Adrian Buchan, with Buchan getting the nod with some powerful backhand surfing.
The Jordy Smith versus Neco Padaratz clash was one of the best of the days, with Smith going ballistic on one wave that included a massive air and a series of powerful manoeuvres to score a perfect 10 points, which was the second 10-point ride of the event. His second wave was a 9.4, leaving Padaratz needing a combination of scores to catch up.
Taken to the cleaners
Australian Luke Munro took Dane Reynolds to the cleaners in the perfect New Pier walls, with Reynolds needing a 9.67 score at the end of the heat for victory.
“It’s like three to four-foot perfect pointbeak conditions out there,” said Munroe after his quarterfinal victory. “I love these conditions, it’s just like the Gold Coast. I haven’t really been surfing my best so far, but I felt my feet out there in that heat.”
The final quarterfinal match-up saw Hawaiian surfer Roy Powers beat French surfer Mikael Picon with the Frenchman needing a 9.93 at the end of his heat.
The temperature was soaring on the beach as the semi-finals hit the water.
Jordy Smith carried on with his incredible form by disposing of Adrian Buchan, continuing his tradition of combo’ing his opponents with his progressive aerial surfing. Despite putting on a valiant effort till the last minute, Buchan was eliminated from the event, but his great performance saw him ascending the WQS ratings.
In the second semi, Luke Munro charged ahead of the Hawaiian Roy Powers, with a great 9.5 score, as well as a second score of 7.83. This left Powers chasing hard for a good second wave, but he failed to get another good one in the bag.
“It was great out there, the waves are so good and they’ve been good all week,” said a stoked Munro on the beach afterwards. “This is such a great time to be in Durban for waves. When we come later in the year the waves are normally not so good, so a week of surf like this makes it so obvious why the event got a prime rating.”
The two competitors paddled out into the final in the prevailing good conditions. It was Smith who started off with a flurry of waves, catching 4 waves before Munro was even on the board. Munro sat and waited for the sets, and the strategy paid off.
His opening wave scored an excellent 8.5 points, and this was followed up with a 6.8 ride. Smith, who busted one giant air on his best wave and nearly pulled off a second similar move on the same wave, scored a 7.83 as his best score and was left chasing a 7.48 score.
The ocean slowed down a bit towards the end of the final, and a last-gasp attempt by Smith was not enough to for him to get the required score.
An elated Luke “Munners” Munro was carried out of the water on the shoulders of his fellow Australian surfers.
‘I knew that I had to wait’
“I knew that I had to wait for the good ones if I wanted to beat Jordy. He has been on such form all week, and can get high scores on bad waves, so I really needed to focus on the sets,” said a stoked Munro on the beach afterwards.
“I’ve been watching Jordy all week, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to match him on the airs and supermans on the smaller waves, so my strategy was to wait and it paid off. I’ve had a really bad start to the year so, with this one in the bag, hopefully I can get some momentum going and carry on like this. Jordy has been surfing so good, so it’s great to beat him at his home beach.”
Munro won US$15 000 and 3 000 points for his efforts, which lifted him to 13th place on the WQS rankings. For his efforts, Smith climbed to third on the WQS behind Tiago Pires (Portugal) and Neco Padaratz (Brazil).
The Virgin Mobile Expression Session saw Heitor Alvez win the prize for the best air, and Travis Logie won the prize for the best wave.
- 1st. 14.44pts Adrian Buchan (AUS)
- 2nd. 13.50pts Kieren Perrow (AUS)
- 1st. 19.40pts Jordy Smith (ZAF)
- 2nd. 15.50pts Neco Padaratz (BRA)
- 1st. 17.17pts Luke Munro (AUS)
- 2nd. 15.00pts Dane Reynolds (USA)
- 1st. 17.26pts Roy Powers (HAW)
- 2nd. 11.60pts Mikael Picon (FRA)
- 1st. 15.67pts Jordy Smith (ZAF)
- 2nd 6.67pts Adrian Buchan (AUS)
- 1st. 17.33pts Luke Munro (AUS)
- 2nd. 14.83pts Roy Powers (HAW)
- 1st. 15.30pts Luke Munro (AUS)
- 2nd. 14.66pts Jordy Smith (ZAF)